In an attempt to shine light on local music, The Lantern’s “Columbus’ Own” is a weekly series that will profile a new Columbus band each week.
As the saying goes, behind every great man is a great woman.
It’s a type of understanding that seems to elude some boys during the formative years, especially toward their moms. In the case of Columbus punk band Nuclear Moms, a teenager’s direction-less dissatisfaction toward his matriarch is the manifesto by which the band creates its music.
“There was a lot of frustration with moms at the time, and that was back in high school,” bassist Alexander Blocher laughed, leaning back against his seat at local campus bar Mama’s Pasta and Brew. “I got to a point where I despised my mom.”
Those explosions of emotion from Blocher were mistakenly taken out on his mother, girlfriends even. Once he escaped to Ohio State, he realized he was in the wrong.
“I got away from her, and I realized how much of an a–hole I was,” Blocher said.
Blocher started the band with drummer, Collin Kovac, with the plan that it would just be a duo. But the project was nearly sacked after a long period where Blocher struggled with writing and recording any lyrics.
During that time, Blocher worked at the Gateway Film Center with the band’s eventual vocalist Tyler Fernberg.
“Alex gave me an idea of how the album was going to be about conflict with our mothers,” Fernberg recalled.
With Blocher’s trust, the newly-acquired singer would step up to the mic in the studio each time and make up the lyrics as he went.
The band’s first self-titled EP — released in August — centered on arguments and teenage frustration based upon interactions that Fernberg and Blocher had with women in their teenage years. To Fernberg, the record is a concept album that begins with the build of anger all the way to its nearly murderous end.
“The EP was very cathartic and just letting everything out — no f—— censors,” Blocher said. “You look at the lyrics, and they’re brutal.”
Fernberg said he felt that the compositions matched his feelings. And once the songs were written, Blocher read through them and was blown away by the congruency of his own feelings with what Fernberg had written.
“I didn’t have a real reason to be upset with my girlfriend and I didn’t realize that until after we broke up — and then (Blocher) didn’t have a real reason to be upset with his mom and he didn’t realize that until after he left her,” Fernberg said.
Naivety and stubbornness created a preconceived notion that the women in their life at the time were the ones out-of-line. As a result, the concept for the next record observes the aftermath of the first record and dealing with the collateral that had been created.
Kovac said that, like plenty of other college students, he feels the aggravation of having to choose a career that dictates the rest of your life. It’s at this crossroad that he realized people really can’t do whatever they want to do.
Kovac said he wants to make a sort of counter-attack on the way things are, with finding stability, success and security all while doing what he wants to do.
“It’s my first real try at this, as a group,” he said. “This is our shot, you know?”
“It’s bulls— that you should feel like you have to be someone,” Fernberg said. “Everyone wants to be somebody, they want to be recognized, they want to be famous, blah blah, who cares?”
“Who Cares?” happens to be the working title of the follow-up record to the self-titled EP release in August.
With the Nuclear Moms project, Blocher said he wants to make music where the listener can feel on top of the world, in control — even powerful.
“There’s this point in time where you almost get lost in this narrative of this driving music — I sit there, and I’m just like, ‘What can I do to entrance people?’” Blocher said.
Blocher envisions listening to Nuclear Moms “in a rusty pickup truck (driving) down an abandoned, desolate desert in Arizona with nothing around you.”
“Your left arm is still on that f—— steering wheel and you’re listening to this s—, driving down that desolate, desert road,” Blocher said.
He also said he wants to deliver a heavier variation to the vibe of Canadian punk duo Death From Above 1979.
“I just long for that low-end — give me something that’s just f—— ballsy.”